Stop and smell the herbs

Southland Herb Society life members (from left) Adair Polson-Genge, Christine Whitaker and president Julianne Watson refreshen the gardens in the Blind Low Vision NZ grounds, Queens Dr, Invercargill.

SHARING a passion for herbs, the Southland Herb Society will host its Spring Festival Celebrating Herbs this weekend as part of its 40th celebrations in Invercargill.

As well as beautiful displays, demonstrations and information, there would also be sales of indoor and outdoor plants, crafts, preserves, lavender, herbal products, and bric-a-brac, as well as a stall hosted by artisan florist Rachel Reid and Lyn Henry’s paintings and prints. Displays include an apothecary, herbs, lavender and Peter Rabbit’s garden.

There would also be a tribute to life members, among them florist and well-known heritage rose, herb and cottage gardener Olive Dunn, who previously owned Floresta flower shop in Dee St and the popular Floresta Fragrant Garden in Windsor in the 1980s.

The society began in March 1981, with a meeting of 25 people with the aims of sharing knowledge and learning about herbs, how to grow and use them, and to promote the planting of herbs.

For some members, it was the love of herbs which interested them; for others, it was how to use herbs in culinary creations or crafts, and for some it was the medicinal benefits of herbs all of these topics were likely to be covered at the festival.

Gardening at the Blind Low Vision centre raised gardens recently, some of the members had pulled all the plants out and replanted the various gardens, society president Julianne Watson among them.

“The gardens were originally planted 37 years ago… and had become overgrown,” she said.

Two members, Miss Dunn and Jean Young, had planned the fragrant gardens with the idea that people could walk along the raised beds to touch and smell the herbs, flowers and plants.

Today, members of the society worked with Invercargill City Council parks and reserves in the gardens, to keep the gardens tidy, Mrs Watson said.

As part of the renewal, the society had spent $1200 on hundreds of herbs, including thyme and boronia, salvias, roses, lavender, perennial herbs, hellebores, ladies mantle and rosemary, as well as culinary and aromatic herbs, and donations from members’ gardens.

A member since 1983, Mrs Watson said she enjoyed the fellowship of the members and the knowledge gained.

“There is so much to learn… and the opportunity to gain knowledge from other people and speakers.”

The Southland Herb Society meets on the last Thursday of the month at the Blind Low Vision Centre on Queens Dr, at 7pm, with a herb of the night, a book review, a topic of interest, a display and supper. Garden tours, outings as far away as Central Otago, Catlins, Bluff, Dunedin and Otautau, workshops and events were also held.

  • Spring Festival displays, demonstrations, information, raffles. Blind Low Vision Centre, Queens Dr, Invercargill, Saturday, October 9, 10am-4pm, and Sunday, October 10, 10am-3pm. Entry, $5 includes Devonshire tea.